3 Interoperability Challenges Faced by Hospitals

Although interoperability is a main priority for hospital CIOs in 2014, many are facing significant obstacles, according to the results of a CIO focus group conducted by Corepoint Health.

Basic interoperability is a requirement of meaningful use stage 2, as hospitals must be able to demonstrate their ability to exchange clinical documents with organizations using different electronic health record systems. However, some organizations, particularly statewide health information exchanges, currently lack the necessary infrastructure to support such data exchange.

"The state cannot do anything with this information, yet it's a requirement of meaningful

use that we exchange them," the CIO of a Midwestern hospital said in the focus group. The slow IT adoption at the statewide HIE means the hospital will have to purchase additional technology to make up for the HIE's shortcomings. "Instead of buying an MRI, we are going to have to spend money on something that is not going to be used because we have to check off a box [under meaningful use criteria]."

Another concern cited is the lack of a master patient index to help ensure the accuracy of shared data. "We were part of the technical analysis group around our state's attempted HIE, but we have some difficulty with their product in that they don’t have a centralized MPI," said the IT director of a hospital in the Pacific Northwest. "So we haven't been able to take advantage of it, even though we are members."

Additionally, government-led interoperability efforts and associated incentives have focused primarily on hospitals and health systems, not on HIEs or other outside organizations. "The concept of interoperability is good, but you have got to get everyone lined up — not just the hospitals," said the IS director of a hospital in the South. "That's the greatest challenge to interoperability."

More Articles on Interoperability:

17 Vendors Sign EHR Code of Conduct
11 Statistics on CEOs' IT Worries
10 Years of HIEs: Significant Progress, but Uncertain Future

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